Cook the Book – Apple Crisp

Some of my favorite shipboard memories are of times when we are at anchor, the awning is up, the decks are cleared and dinner is over. Jon and I are able to sit and look out over the harbor and watch the sunset with our passengers as we enjoy our after dinner coffee and dessert.

Apple Crisp from At Home At Sea

Apple Crisp

12 tart apples
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400°. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4-inch wedges; toss them with the rest of the filling ingredients and spread them evenly in an ungreased 9 x 13-inch pan. In a separate bowl, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is coarsely blended.  Mix the sugar and salt into the topping; mixture should be crumbly. Place the topping on top of the apple mixture and bake for 45 minutes or until the top is browned and the liquid in the apples is dark.

Makes 15 servings

(c) Annie Mahle
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Cook the Book – Summer Vegetable Strata

Summer Vegetable Strata


12 slices of day old or dry French or Italian Bread, cut in 1/2-inch slices
1 clove garlic, slightly crushed
5 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup loosely packed fresh chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 medium summer squash or zucchini, washed and cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 1/2-inch thick
2 tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.  Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Rub the top of each slice of bread with the garlic clove. Lay the slices in the dish in one layer, cutting them into pieces when necessary. Season lightly with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs then whisk in the milk, half of the cheese, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Add the basil and stir gently.  Set aside. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and colors lightly. Stir the squash into the onion, spread everything in a single layer, and let it sit undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes to encourage browning; turn and continue cooking another 1 to 2 minutes until browned. When the squash is lightly browned on both sides, stir in the tomatoes, stir to toss, and remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to drain off any excess liquid and spread the vegetables evenly over the bread. Give the milk and egg mixture a stir and gently pour it all into the dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake until the milk and egg mixture sets, about 40-45 minutes. Cool at least 5 minutes, cut into squares and serve.

Serves 6-8

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Buying Local in the Middle of a Maine Winter

SmushedRowCoverI tried.  I've been trying.  I hear that you can get greens from small hoop houses in the middle of winter.  That may be true if you shovel the snow around them routinely, but add two long driveways, one walkway and the amount of snow we've had this winter, minus a snow blower, then add a husband with a bum shoulder, and suddenly the hoop houses become galacticly low on the priority list.  Therefore, what started as a simple little plastic covering for lettuce seeds has become flat as a pancake.  Every one in a while when it rains, I get a glimpse of the mushed plastic, but that's it. This photo is actually showing two hoop houses.  One on the right and one on the left.  See it?  Right, me neither.  That's my point.

It was my big hope that this winter we would have at least greens this time of year that I'd grown myself.  Not happening so far.  Too, the root vegetables that were root cellared in the fall are dwindling rapidly and the canned tomatoes are in the same state.

I'm craving healthy, colorful vegetables and fruit.  And this is the dilemma that so many of us face when actively supporting locally produced food within a lifestyle that is also active and not centered on homesteading.  Those who have completely drunk the kool-aide know that you need to start in April (with seedlings) for tomatoes, beans and a host of other vegetables to be canned and frozen in August for eating in January, February and March when the healthy body is craving vitamin rich, juicy, fresh produce.  And its a small segment of our population, bless their hearts, who have dedicated their lives to this pursuit.  Then there are the anti-zealots who fully embrace the Slow Food movement in every way that fits into our lifestyle and make the changes that make sense for our way of earning a living.  I'm in this camp and find there are places, like now, with holes between local fall and local spring.

Veggies1So off to the grocery store I trounced and this is what I brought back.  I'm RIDICULOUSLY excited to eat all of this produce, even though much of what is on my counter right now didn't come from the local farm or my garden.  Ironically, the tomatoes are Backyard Beauties and grown here in Maine.

I just ate three clementines for a snack!

© 2009 Anne Mahle

Sugar the Cow Had Her Calf!

Christine, the woman who supplies two gallons of dairy to our family all winter long, walked out to the barn this morning to milk Maggie and to check on Sugar and Wink.  See this previous post on our visit to the barn to meet everyone.  Sugar has been pregnant all winter and this morning, Christine was greeted by a new set of small eyes staring up at her through the frosty breath of a cold, Maine morning! 

Maggie is not pregnant and has been the only one producing milk for the winter.  That will change dramatically now as Sugar is a good milk producer to begin with and will have plenty of milk for her calf and several new customers for Christine.  A road trip down to Waldoboro is definitely in order so that we can meet the new little one.


Maggie, Sugar and her calf from left to right.


The new little one.

Everyone in the family except Jon said, "Aaawwwhh."

Photo credit Christine Baker

© 2009 Anne Mahle

The Good News Is… Farm sales are up by 33% since 2002

This is our first in a series of The Good News Is… blogs which came after deciding that listening to more bad news wasn't going to help anything good come along.  We've been saying "the good news is…" in the office for a while and thought to share it with everyone.

An article that ran in the Portland Press Herald today shows that farm to consumer sales and local agriculture sales are up.  As they should be.

And that's the good news for today